Eliza started going out more when her marriage ended, so I was not surprised she had friends from different circles, most of them were either divorced or not married yet. I noticed something common shared by Eliza and friends that was apparent post their divorce: dressing up in more revealing clothes, wearing more make-up, and definitely practiced more flirting. This change was obvious enough for me to pause, blink twice, and question whether they were the same people as before.
Who took care of their children at home when they were out all night partying most weekends (and perhaps weekdays too)? Why did women feel the need to look like skanks upon being single again... to prove they were still desirable? Instantly, my reaction was to judge them as "trying too hard" or "desperate."
I realized then that subconsciously, I might have looked down on anybody who did not fit into the ‘perfect housewife’ images I had in mind, because in some ways, I used to feel superior before. Not in a way that I felt prettier or more successful, but it was more of seeing myself as having better morals and respectability. I used to judge other women who, even after they were married and became mothers, still flirted, did a lot of clubbing, or wore too-sexy clothes. I used to have this mental picture of how a married woman and a mother should look like and behave.
But then who was I to judge? Who said that the way I was moping around at home, my reluctance to change the way I looked or dressed, my being at home every night when my daughter went to sleep... was better? As I sat there, taking mental notes of my surroundings, I contemplated my own situation... of my own marriage ending and the impending divorce.
Perhaps Eliza and her friends simply became more efficient in managing their time? Maybe having fun, partying like there was no tomorrow was a better alternative to feeling lonely at home? Chances were, those tight, sexy dresses were a good motivation to exercise, one that would finally made me commit to the healthy diet that I have been wanting to do for the last seven years but kept on postponing... Putting on more make-up would most likely force me to pay attention to my skin and start wearing at least a night cream! And surely, flirting with other guys, holding their attention even for just a few short minutes, seeing desires in their eyes, would do wonders to my current all-time low self-esteem?
Two-and-a half hours later, I had just about enough of the ‘dootz dootz dootz’ music. My tummy was grumbling, clearly pissed off from having been fed the tiny-portioned dinner served earlier. My eyes were tearing up, my nostrils were burning from all that second-hand smoking (thanks to all the smoking that took place all around me). I was eager to call it a night, and luckily Eliza was intoxicated enough this time to let me go home.
That night, on the ride home, I sat quietly on the back seat of the car. The digital clock on the dashboard beamed, reminding me that I was not yet home despite the late hour. I thought about Eliza and her friends again. About how I used to judge women who looked like them and live their kind of lifestyle. About how my own life was turned upside down by the death of my marriage, not too different from theirs—I’m sure--when their marriages ended.
Divorce is devastating. The resulting heartbreak and pain could feel unbearable at times. But different people dealt with their pain differently. I’m not here to condone one way of coping over the other. Clearly, I disagree with coping methods that are potentially hazardous, for example, turning to drugs or alcohols. But going through my own divorce has opened my eyes and heart to others going through the same experience. To a degree, I now understand why there were women—like Eliza and her friends—who partied every weekend, dressed-up in sexy clothes, and flirted with different guys after their divorce. If they felt empowered by doing what they did, and if it could lessen the pain, then good for them! Some of them did look better anyways (skank factor aside ;) as the result. You go, girl!
As for me, I still prefer the quietness of my room, the familiar smell of my house, and the comfort of my PJs. I still think that being home every night when my daughter goes to sleep is one of the best way to spend my nights. I am not ready to flirt with other men because my heart still belongs to someone. But that’s alright. To each her own.
To all of my sisters out there dealing with divorce or its aftermath... Do what you need to do. Don’t let others opinions and judgements slow you down. Be strong, and come out a winner!